Grandparents' University sees record year for fun, learning

Grandparents UniversityA UW-Green Bay nutrition lab is abuzz with activity on an otherwise sleepy July afternoon. But rather than UWGB students, most of whom are gone for the summer, this class targets younger — and older — generations of enthusiastic learners.

Welcome to Grandparents’ University, the UW-Green Bay summer camp that’s been bridging generations on campus once a summer for the past six years. A record 115 grandparents and grandkids were part of the 2011 camp, taking classes in art, nutrition, wildlife and more.

“They love spending the one-to-one time with their grandparent and grandchild —however, you know, that worked out — so they love that part of it,” said Mona Christensen, director of camps and conferences at UW-Green Bay. “And you know, there really isn’t another place where you can go … where learning is the main focus, and it’s something that you’re able to do together.”

Among the most popular classes at GPU is nutritional science, a hands-on course in cooking, eating right — and having fun doing it. Both the younger and elder Grandparents’ U students relish the chance to increase their nutritional IQ while whipping up a variety of tasty treats.

“What we want is for kids to think about all of the wonderful colors of foods that they can eat,” said instructor Judy Knudsen of Brown County UW Extension, “and by eating all of those wonderful colors, that’s certainly healthy for them, and hopefully will lead them to making some healthier choices in the future.”

It was fun and interesting stuff for 8-year-old Anthony Patek, attending his second Grandparents’ University with his grammy, Karen Katers.

“First year, we learned about animals,” Patek said, displaying a fresh fruit kabob, “and now we’re — it’s going to be — it’s been a little interesting about how to make food, like this.”

And while Grandparents’ U provides the chance to learn, bond and just have fun, it also lets younger attendees see what college is all about — an important exposure that gets kids thinking early about higher education.

“In some families college is just an expectation, that they’re going to do it; and in others, maybe not,” Christensen said. “And I just talked to a grandpa today at lunch where he said, ‘man, I’d give my eyeteeth to make sure that my grandson was going to college, and this is just a perfect setting,’ he said, ‘the concept of this is perfect, I love it, we’re just so happy to be here.”

The two-day camp goes by quickly, but campers of all ages leave proud of what they’ve created — and happy with the memories they’ve made.

See more photos from Grandparents’ University.